The Red Raiders passed their first true road test last weekend against Richmond and dismantled Longwood in Lubbock last night to move to 11-1 on the season. The win over Longwood capped a 15-3 home record during the 2016 calendar year for the Red Raiders. The team is now off for over a week before opening Big 12 play against Iowa State, so let’s check out their tournament resume.
Strength of Schedule
Tech’s rating in this department took one step forward and two steps back after games against Richmond and Longwood. Experts continue to acknowledge that Tech is a good team but never do so without pointing out the cupcake schedule.
Not much has changed in this area. Texas has a tough road ahead, and Kansas State and TCU will get the chance to prove they’re legit. The Big 12 is good, but its distinct tiers probably keep it behind the ACC and Big Ten overall.
Peaks and Valleys
The road win at Richmond is now the signature win of the non-conference schedule. After trailing by 1 at halftime, Tech dominated the opening 10 minutes of the second half and held on late. The rollercoaster season for the Auburn Tigers took an upswing Wednesday night when they beat Oklahoma, so that early loss now looks better than before.
7 in 7: Results to Monitor
Conference play starts for much of the country in the days after Christmas. Though three days are wiped off the schedule for the holidays, the stakes will be raised afterward. Here are seven games over the next seven days that could affect Tech’s standing on Selection Sunday.
Houston Baptist @ Northwestern
What Tech Needs: The Red Raiders handled Houston Baptist early in the season without much trouble. Northwestern are a team in Tech’s range in terms of the tournament, so an HBU upset here, albeit unlikely, would both validate Tech’s win and knock a competitor backwards.
LSU @ Wake Forest
What Tech Needs: Tech drew the Tigers for this season’s Big 12/SEC Challenge, so a strong LSU squad will attract more eyes to that matchup. Wake Forest is off to a surprisingly good start, so Tech fans should hope LSU can take down their ACC foes here.
Auburn @ UConn
What Tech Needs: The only team to beat the Red Raiders thus far just knocked off another Big 12 team, the Oklahoma Sooners. Since Tech benefits from Auburn being as good as possible, a road win here would make the slip-up in Cancun less damaging.
Michigan State @ Minnesota
What Tech Needs: Tech have no games against the Big Ten, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be watching them. Minnesota will likely hover around the bubble all season, but a home loss to a down Spartan team could knock the Golden Gophers down to or below Texas Tech.
Providence @ Xavier
What Tech Needs: Xavier are making the tournament no matter what, and Providence likely will too. Still, there’s less certainty with the Friars, and since they don’t play in a top 3 conference they’ll need to play very well in the Big East. Root for Xavier to win big here.
Seton Hall @ Creighton
What Tech Needs: Seton Hall is Providence, Creighton is Xavier. Same scenario, same train of thought. Tech benefits most from Seton Hall losing badly and struggling a bit in Big East play. A top 10 Creighton squad should help here.
Cincinnati @ Temple
What Tech Needs: Temple are yet another team probably slightly ahead of Tech at this point. However, they play in the American conference and will have fewer big chances down the stretch. If they lose by double digits at home to a good Cincinnati team, Tech’s conference schedule could be enough to pass the Owls.
Winter is here, and so too is Big 12 play. The Auburn loss stings, but overall the Red Raiders had a successful start to the year. The team may not be as battle-tested as others in the conference, but their quality of play has been elite thus far.